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NEWS ITEMS AFFECTING GAY, LESBIANS & BISEXUALS

2007 - January, February, March

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Sponsored link.


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In the following, "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage."

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News during 2007-January

bullet2007-JAN-02: MA: Massachusetts ConCon: The legislators met again in a Constitutional Convention. Over two-thirds of the legislature voted for marriage equality; they voted 132 to 61 to defeat the motion. But a 75% vote is required to stop the process! The amendment will receive its final review during the next legislative session. If it passes this stage, it will be placed on the 2008 ballot.

Massachusetts is a curious example of a democracy. Only a 25% positive vote by legislators is needed to place an amendment on the ballot, and only 50% plus one person among the electorate is needed to strip away a really basic human right -- the right to marry -- from an identified group . Atheists, Agnostics, Wiccans, Satanists, members of other minority religions, and other frequently despised groups of individuals need to hold firmly to their rights. They may disappear at any time through the same legislative process.
bullet2007-JAN-02: ON Ontario Court of Appeals creates new family structure: The same court that authorized same-sex marriage in Ontario in mid-2003 has modified possible family structures again. They allowed a birth father, birth mother, and lesbian partner of the birth mother to be recognized as parents of a child who is being brought up by all three adults.

We have a hunch that this is the first time in North America that a child has had two mommies and a daddy, all recognized under law as parents. The court decision triggered outrage among religious and social conservatives. More info.
bullet2007-JAN-30: Israel: First same-sex marriage registered: Avi and Binyamin Rose, who were married on 2006-JUN in Toronto Canada became the first same-sex couple to have their marriage registered in Israel's Interior Ministry's Population Registry. More details.
bullet2007-JAN-3i: HI: Civil union bill proposed for Hawaii: Democratic legislators have proposed a bill to create civil unions for same-sex couples in Hawaii. They consider it one of their highest priorities. More details.
bullet2007-FEB-02: U.S.: Results of a survey of Conservative Jews on homosexuality released: A survey was E-mailed mailed to 18,676 Conservative rabbis, cantors, seminary students, and lay and professional leadership. 4,861 responded. An additional 722 responded via a web site.

The survey showed that about two-thirds of Conservative rabbis and cantors believe that the Jewish Theological Seminary should admit gay and lesbian students for rabbinical study. Results were slightly higher among lay and professional leadership, and slightly lower among student rabbis and cantors. Similar results were obtained on the question of rabbis officiating at same-sex commitment ceremonies. 2 The Conservative tradition within American Judaism is the second largest, following Reform Judaism who already treat persons and couples of all sexual orientations equally. More details

bullet2007-FEB-21: RI: Attorney General issues ruling on SSM: In a major development, Attorney General Patrick Lynch wrote a ruling that covers same-sex couples who are residents of Rhode Island, go to Massachusetts to marry, and return to their homes. The ruling states that they are entitled to have their marriages recognized, and they are to receive the full set of benefits, rights and obligations that opposite-sex couples routinely receive. More details.
bullet2007-FEB-23: MA: Teaching about same-sex marriage to continue: Two families sued the Lexington school district in an attempt to stop them discussing same-sex marriage in class. Lexington is about 12 miles (20 km) west of Boston, MA. Massachusetts is one of only two states -- the other being Rhode Island -- that recognize same-sex marriage. The parents asserted that the school violated their religious rights by reading a gay-themed book in class and allowing students to borrow books that discussed homosexuality. The accused the school as having:

"... begun a process of intentionally indoctrinating very young children to affirm the notion that homosexuality is right and normal in direct denigration of the plaintiffs' deeply held faith."

The book that triggered the suit is "King & King." It describes a crown prince who rejects a series of princesses until finally falling in love with another prince. They marry, kiss, and live happily ever after.

Federal Judge Mark Wolf rejected their case, and ruled that public schools are:

"entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy. ... Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation."

The judge had no choice in the case, because of previous rulings in similar cases. Also, if he had ruled for the plaintiffs, chaos would result. Religious liberals would probably sue the school board, complaining that by suppressing information about the existence of same-sex marriage, the school board would be violating their liberal beliefs.

A lawyer for the two families said that they will appeal. 3

bullet2007-FEB-24: USA: Federal bills concerning sexual orientation: The Associated Press predicts that the current Congress is "likely to pass the first major federal gay-rights bills." Actually, this appears to be an error, because the bills are not directed at sexual minorities; they cover everyone. They would protect heterosexuals and bisexuals as much as they would protect gays and lesbians. Three bills are under consideration:
bulletAn expansion to the existing hate-crimes law that lengthens sentences to criminals who are motivated to commit violent crimes because of racial, gender, religious and other hatred. The amendment would ad sexual orientation to the list of criteria, and would give convicted gay bashers longer sentences.
bulletThe Employment Non-Discrimination Act, (ENDA) bill to outlaw workplace discrimination, including hiring and firing, based on sexual orientation. It may include sexual identity as well. It would exempt religious groups, thus allowing them to continue discriminating against sexual minorities.
bulletRepeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy so that gays and lesbians could freely serve in the armed forces. The chances of this bill being passed is slim.

Referring to the first two bills, Matt Barber, a spokesperson for Concerned Women for America said: "With liberals in control, there's a good possibility they'll both pass. They're both dangerous to freedom of conscience, to religious liberties, to free speech." It is unclear what his reasoning is, because both of the bills refer to actions; the first bill refers to actions only by convicted criminals. Neither refers to beliefs or speech.

Even if passed, the bills would face a possible veto by President Bush. Dave Noble, public policy director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force speculates: "Does he want to use one of his first vetoes to deny basic job protection to people?" 4

bullet2007-MAR-01: Canada: Supreme court delivers another victory to same-sex couples: Widows and widowers in opposite-sex relationships have benefited by receiving Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefit payments. In the year 2000, the federal government passed a law granting benefits also to survivors of same-sex relationships -- but only if the partner died after 1998-JAN-01. George Hislop launched a lawsuit against the Federal Government after the CPP denied him survivor benefits after the death of his partner of 28 years in 1986. The court ruled in a class action suit that the law was unconstitutional and discriminatory under the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Canada's constitution. Survivors can now collect benefits if their partner died after 1985 when  -- first guaranteed equal rights to persons of all sexual orientations. About 1,000 people will benefit from this ruling. The cost to the federal government is estimated to be about $50 to 90 million CDN ($43 to 52 million US) a year (sources differ). The CPP has assets of about 98 billion. Unfortunately, Hislop died from cancer in 2005.

One of about 1,500 co-petitioners, Al McNutt from Truro, NS, said:

"For me it was never about the money, it was more about the equality and feeling like our relationship was finally recognized." 5

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Massachusetts Constitutional Convention - Live Thread," FreeRepublic.com, 2007-JAN-02, at: http://www.freerepublic.com/
  2. Ben Harris, "Most survey respondents vote in favor of gay Conservative rabbis," Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, 2007-FEB-2, at: http://www.jewishsf.com/
  3. "U.S. court upholds same-sex teaching to children," Reuters, 2007-FEB-24, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  4. David Crary, "Gay rights advances likely in Congress," Associated Press, 2007-FEB-24, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  5. Ottawa 'discriminates' in same-sex pension payments: court," CBC News, 2007-MAR-01, at: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/

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Notice:

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. sec 107: The news items contained in the above hyperlinks are provided without profit by the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance, PO Box 27026, Kingston ON Canada K7M 8W5, and are intended to be available to anyone interested in the topics included, for educational purposes only. Any editor, author, Webmaster, writer, publisher, news service, etc. that objects to being part of this listing may request that future works be excluded. We will also attempt to delete previous entries from the same source.

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > News > here

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Copyright 2007 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2007-JAN-02
Latest update: 2007-MAR-01
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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